15 Nov 2011

Bonded asbestos not so safe, review finds

8:37 pm on 15 November 2011

Australia is set to develop a strategic plan for asbestos management after a review found that broken sheets of asbestos can pose health risks in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Cancer specialists gathered in Perth for an annual oncology conference are to hear from the chair of the federal government's Asbestos Management Review, Geoff Fary, who says 'bonded asbestos' may not be as safe as once thought.

Asbestos fibres are known to cause cancer, but solid or bonded asbestos is generally considered safe.

Mr Fary, says the review has received several submissions that suggest Australia's recent spate of natural disasters has resulted in asbestos fibres being released and that may have some unexpected consequences.

He says, in the rush to clean up in the aftermath of a cyclone, flood or bushfire, the health risks posed by broken sheets of asbestos can be easily forgotten.

The ABC reports that the review aims to develop a strategic plan for asbestos management in Australia and will deliver its final report and recommendations by the end of June 2012.